Over the weekend, welterweight scrapper Josh Neer picked up his third straight win since being ousted from the UFC for a third time back in February of 2013 with a first round armbar over Travis Coyle, capturing the VFC (so close!) welterweight title in the process. It was a victory that may very well earn “The Dentist” yet another chance in the octagon, where he may very well washout yet again in four or so fights.
With all due respect, that’s just the level of fighter Neer seems to be; a perpetual gamer with good enough skills to destroy anyone on the local circuit while never quite being able to establish himself in the big leagues — which is saying something for a guy who holds victories over the likes of Melvin Guillard, Duane Ludwig, and Mac Danzig. But while Neer may never be a title holder in the UFC or even a contender, it would be hard to deny that he’s one of the most dangerous guys competing outside of it today.
Here are five more of those guys, listed in no particular order.
A staple of the UFC’s welterweight division during the late aughts, Josh “The People’s Warrior” Burkman has had the most unexpected non TRT-induced career resurgence this side of Mark Hunt. After receiving his walking papers following a unanimous decision loss to Pete Sell at UFC 90 (with a 5-6 record overall), Burman all but vanished from the public eye. The reason behind his disappearance was similar to that of countless MMA veterans before him: Injury.
Burkman spent the next year and a half recovering from back surgery, but when he reemerged, he did so as a completely changed fighter. A 5-1 win streak across various promotions would follow before Burkman would sign with the WSOF, where he would score upset wins over fellow UFC alums Gerald Harris, Aaron Simpson, and most impressively, Jon Fitch. Although Burkman’s meteoric rise would be halted in his WSOF title fight against Steve Carl, “The People’s Warrior” would bounce back from defeat with yet another brutal stoppage of Tyler Stinson at WSOF 9. And you better believe it was a walkoff KO.
Speaking of the WSOF, David Branch has built up quite a little streak of his own in the Ray Sefo-led promotion, notching back-to-back-to-back wins over Dustin Jacoby, whatever remains of Paulo Filho, and Daniel Villefort before capturing the middleweight title via a first round submission of Jesse Taylor (who himself has seen a good deal of success outside the UFC) at WSOF 10.
Branch’s last fight in the UFC saw him fall victim to the nightmare scenario that is a Paul Harris kneebar, yet somehow, he was not admitted to a psychiatric facility shortly thereafter and in fact has compiled a 6-1 record in the time since, with the lone blemish coming by way of decision to hulking light heavyweight Anthony Johnson. Not bad for one of the most infamous KO victims in UFC History.
We may rip on Rampage every now and again for being an annoying loudmouth with ever-deteriorating skills, but when it comes right down to it, the former UFC light heavyweight champion still has a lot of fight left in him. Now competing under the Bellator banner, Page has scored three straight victories for the first time since entering the UFC back in 2007 (a comparison we’re sure he’d appreciate), including a first round TKO of current/inexplicable title challenger Joey Beltran and a controversial decision over King Mo at Bellator 120: Dicks Be Ridden.
And while it’s almost certain that we’ll never see the 36-year-old back in the Octagon before he hangs ‘em up, we may very well see him rise to the respectable position of Bellator light heavyweight champion once Emanuel Newton sacrifices Joey Beltran to the MMA Gods. Have I mentioned how confused I am by that fight?
(Finish comes around the 6 minute mark.)
Although he may technically be considered a Bellator washout these days (which really doesn’t help prove our case), Ben Saunders has done a lot to separate himself from countless TUF washouts before him. He went 4-3 in the UFC following his stint on The Ultimate Fighter 6, picking up brutal stoppages of Brandon Wolff and Marcus Davis in the process, and has advanced to two Bellator welterweight tournament finals (and a third semifinal) via scorching knockouts of Raul Amaya and Brian Warren. He also likes to think that he helped get noted dog-killer Bjorn Rebney removed from his throne over at Bellator, which doesn’t exactly lower his stock in our book either.
“Killa B” was originally scheduled to face Matt Riddle at Titan FC 29 for the promotion’s welterweight title later this month, however, with Riddle once again forced out of a fight do to injury, Saunders will now face Vale Tudo legend Jose Landi-Jons. Should be a hell of a scrap.
(I am being told that this is not one of Daley’s recent highlights, but is in fact the lowest lowlight of his entire career. I apologize for the mistake.)
Paul Daley’s decision to cheap shot Josh Koscheck following their fight at UFC 113 has been discussed to the point of nausea (or as Tito Ortiz might put it, “ad museum”). Daley’s apologized for it, repented for it, and probably made a donation to The Human Fund in Koscheck’s name in a last ditch effort to get Karma back on his side. The unfortunate incident is mentioned in every article even tangentially related to him despite happening some four years (and a half dozen or so brutal KO’s) ago, and he’ll arguably never live it down, not even if he cures cancer while saving a baby from a building burning.
But to act as if the cheap shot never happened would be to revise the history of MMA to suit our needs, and we’ll be damned if that’s going to happen under our watch. So let’s talk about it some more.
Honestly, I’m of two minds about Daley’s decision. On one hand, Koscheck is a bit of a turd, and turds sometimes require an uncouth method of expulsion, lest they stick around too long and stink things up for everybody. On the other hand, striking an opponent after the bell is perhaps the most cowardly, punk-ass move in the book, and allowing Daley to return to the octagon would be all but rewarding his despicable behavior.
But on the third hand, at least Daley was professional enough to do his fighting in the ring. I mean, did you even read the UFC’s apology for the Jones-Cormier brawl? What a crock of shit that thing was. I’m glad they decided to post an official video of said brawl to their Youtube page though, to show us how super serial they are about this kind of behavior infecting their otherwise polished organization.
Jason High shoves a ref, gets booted before White can even watch the tape. Daley throws a punch after the bell, gets a lifetime ban. Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier give a PR rep a heart attack, tackle Chuck Zito, and hit some poor lady with a shoe while brawling at a media day, receive all the monies. WHERE IS MATT HUGHES WHEN WE NEED HIM.
Oh right, Daley’s record. Since exiting the UFC, “Semtex” has gone 11-4 and 5-2 in the past two years across various organizations, with 7 of those wins coming via uber-violent knockout. A clean bill of (legal) health finally obtained, Daley re-signed with Bellator in July and will likely continue breaking jaws with tremendous aplomb for the foreseeable future.
Anyone you think we missed?